ruuger: My hand with the nails painted red and black resting on the keyboard of my laptop (Default)
[personal profile] ruuger
Don't mind me, just slowly making my way through my episodic notes...

Extremis )

The Pyramid at the End of the World )

The Lie of the Land )

American Eclipse, by David Baron

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:27 am
essentialsaltes: (eye)
[personal profile] essentialsaltes
Science journalist and umbraphile David Baron makes canny use of the upcoming solar eclipse to market this fine story of the 1878 eclipse, and the efforts of the nascent scientific power of the US to observe and record the event in what was then a pretty wild west as the path crossed from Montana Territory through Wyoming and Colorado to Texas.

Among the teams being assembled:

Simon Newcomb and Thomas Edison in Creston, Wyoming.
Samuel Pierpont Langley atop Pikes Peak. (Meteorologist Cleveland Abbe was so struck with altitude sickness, he was obliged to come down the mountain and make what sketches he could.)
Asteroid hunter James Craig Watson in Rawlins, Wyoming.
And a team of six from Vassar, including recent alumnae and astronomer Maria Mitchell, providing witting and unwitting fodder to the controversies surrounding the vote for women, and recent claims on the effects of education on women, epitomized by Clarke's ridiculous-yet-infuriating Sex in Education (1876):

 The delicate bloom, early but rapidly fading beauty, and singular pallor of American girls and women have almost passed into proverb. The first observation of a European that lands upon our shores is, that our women are a feeble race ; and, if he is a physiological observer, he is sure to add, They will give birth to a feeble race, not of women only, but of men as well. " I never saw before so many pretty girls together," said Lady Amberley to the writer, after a visit to the public schools of Boston ; and then added, "They all looked sick." Circumstances have repeatedly carried me to Europe, where I am always surprised by the red blood that fills and colors the faces of ladies and peasant girls, reminding one of the canvas of Rubens and Murillo ; and am always equally surprised on my return, by crowds of pale, bloodless female faces, that suggest consumption, scrofula, anemia, and neuralgia. To a large extent, our present system of educating girls is the cause of this palor and weakness.
...
Those grievous maladies which torture a woman's earthly existence, called leucorrhcea, amenorrhcea, dysmenorrhoea, chronic and acute ovaritis, prolapsus uteri, hysteria, neuralgia, and the like, are indirectly affected by food, clothing, and exercise ; they are directly and largely affected by the causes that will be presently pointed out, and which arise from a neglect of the peculiarities of a woman's organization. The regimen of our schools fosters this neglect.


The book does a great job setting the stage for who all the players are, and their preparations and difficulties in getting equipment (or failing to get equipment) to the middle of nowhere, with dangers ranging from Native Americans to feuds between competing railroads.

And then, of course, the event itself is all of three minutes long.

And there is what follows. The good (American science on the upswing, Mitchell drawing a crowd of more than a thousand to hear her lecture at the Woman's Congress in Providence), the bad (Edison's much-touted but not very useful tasimeter, although presaging IR astronomy), and the ugly (Watson's erroneous claim of the discovery of Vulcan, a planet within the orbit of Mercury -- his later misguided efforts to vindicate his view may have inadvertently led to his early death).


ruuger: My hand with the nails painted red and black resting on the keyboard of my laptop (Default)
[personal profile] ruuger
It's kinda weird because this the first time that they're announcing a new Doctor and I'm actually interested about who's cast instead of being paralysed with not caring. Tennant was announced before I'd even seen the show, Smith was announced when I had been stuck somewhere around mid season 2 for almost three years, and Capaldi was announced when I had quit watching the show again because of the boringness of Eleven/Clara era.

(this is also the first time I'm actually sad to see the current Doctor go, instead of thinking "Maybe I'll like the next one better")

Also, if in 2013 my reaction was "Was it a woman? No? Okay then. " now it's "Please be a woman, please be a woman, please be a woman"

I'm not saying that I'll automatically like the next Doctor if it's a woman, but the odds are much better considering that Doctor Who is the only current show with a male lead that I even watch anymore. But storywise as well, I think it would be quite an anticlimax if Twelve went through all the trouble of fighting the regeneration only to end up looking like Kris Marshall. What a tragic ending that would be.

(For the record, I really liked Kris Marshal in My Life in Film and My Family, but I just think he'd be such a boring choice for the Doctor)

eta: And it's Jodie Whitaker. I kinda suspected it might be her ever since I heard that she'd suddenly risen in the betting lists this week - the same happened with Capaldi as well. Not my first choice, but I approve. Now, hopefully the new Doctor's personalilty will be more like Nine or Twelve than Ten or Eleven to avoid making the Doctor into a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. And please let her have clothes that you could actually fight daleks in.

Rewatching Doctor Who: series 1

Jul. 14th, 2017 01:34 pm
ruuger: My hand with the nails painted red and black resting on the keyboard of my laptop (Default)
[personal profile] ruuger
So I decided to rewatch the entirety of new!Who because I've been meaning to do it for a couple of years now, and also because it might be interesting to rewatch the show now that I like the Doctor (well, one incarnation of him at least), and perhaps will actually pay attention to what he is doing this time around.

(clearly I'm not the only one rewatching the show because the library has 3-4 copies of each season and they're all constantly on loan - it took me three weeks to get the 2009 specials after I finished S4)

I don't think I've actually seen most of series 1 since 2006 (except for "Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", which I've seen at least a dozen times). Which is probably why my memories of it were, ahem, much better than the series turned out to be while rewatching. Because boy have some parts of it aged badly...

Read more... )

In all, I think the first series has more of a children's show feel to it than the later series, in both good and bad. It gives me really strong Eerie Indiana/Around the Twist vibes (especially "Rose"), which makes me suspect that I would have loved DW had I seen it as a kid.

I did not like Nine nearly as much as I remembered liking him, though (and I didn't remember liking him that much in the first place). I think Christopher Eccleston's performance really suffers from the writing and direction. He's okay in the dramatic scenes, but the comedy just doesn't work at all, because not only is it often the wrong kind of comedy for his acting style, the way that the comedic scenes were often set up and edited often completely undermined the jokes. I guess there was some miscommunication about the tone of the show (on top of all the other behind the scenes issues), since I read an interview a while ago where Eccleston said that if he'd do the show now, he'd play the comedy completely differently. Also, the elements that work best with Nine are mainly things that he shares with Twelve, which makes me wonder if Nine would have worked better if he'd had the stories and direction of Twelve era.

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